Have you seen the new Honda Odyssey commercial? Rose petals pour out of the side door, and the rear open to reveal a trunk full of glowing ginormous pearls inside clams.

No-one would ever make that commercial about our van.

We bought it 2 1/2 years ago for one reason only: to add a rear-entry wheelchair ramp for our oldest and still be able to seat the other three kids.

We bought it from the original owners, who sold it because it was paid off and they “didn’t want to be without a van payment.”

Uh. That’s weird.

A couple months later, we left our kids with my in-laws and set off in separate cars to deliver the van to be retrofitted with the ramp.

Half a mile down the road, smoke began spewing out of every air-conditioning vent, the cabin stank of burnt plastic, and every light on my dashboard went black.

We pulled into a parking lot and looked it over. We determined that all necessary components (e.g. the brakes) still functioned, so we decided to press on.

One week later, our daughter died.

Some friends volunteered to get our van for us, and we took them up on it, with a warning about the lack of electrical.

It took 2 days for the mechanics to figure out what happened. A bunch of wires had burned up and fried the computer. We sunk nearly two grand into the thing. Which meant we couldn’t just sell it, even though we didn’t need it anymore. We’d invested too much money in it.

It has nickled and dimed us since. And I’ve secretly been plotting to get rid of the unreliable jerk.

New Year’s Day was the last straw. My side of the family was meeting at my sister’s place, about 2 hours south of us, for a big family Wii tournament.

About an hour away, Scott and I noticed a strange vibration. Soon it was shaking the entire car. It bucked and choked like it was about to stall, and then stranded us in the middle of farmland.

No smoke. No fumes. No spewing fluids. Just ungodly shaking.

The only places open on New Year’s Day are McDonalds, gas stations, and the AAA emergency phone number. So we spent the afternoon in McDonalds. A kind tow-truck driver let all five of us pile into the cab and dropped us off there. That 2 minute ride was the highlight of the day.

Between some friends who were visiting family only 20 minutes away from us and my parents, we managed to squeeze the five of us into 2 sedans for a cozy ride home.

The next afternoon, the mechanic called with the verdict. In yet another freak incident, one of the cylinders in the engine completely melted. It is unrepairable. We can either put in a new/rebuilt engine for $4500 or put in a used engine for almost two grand. Ouch.

We’re getting the used engine, obviously.

Now, the only thing remaining to decide is, do we sell it ourselves? Or do we trade it in?